PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) - A venomous caterpillar from Canada is now being spotted in parts of central Pennsylvania.
If you see the white hickory tussock moth caterpillar, don't touch it.
Its fuzzy black spines contain venom to ward off predators, but it can also irritate human skin.
The good news is the nasty rash it leaves behind is treatable with lotion and ice.
Some KDKA-TV viewers have seen it near the Frick House and along the Montour Trail.
There are two things you need to know about this caterpillar beyond the fact its name is ridiculous:
1) It's WHITE or brightly colored.
2) It has hairs with barbs that will stick in your skin and VENOM in its back to give you a rash.
If that's not enough to make you want to leave it alone, Ehrlich Pest Control Entomologist Chad Gore, Ph.D., says contact with the hairs on this critter will leave them embedded in your skin and a red itchy rash will likely follow.
He even says there are cases where someone eyed the White Hickory as a morsel to be consumed and gobbled it down. The resulting stomachache, nausea, fever or some combination of those symptoms was probably a tough learned lesson.
Dr. Gore says, "It's best to let the caterpillars do their own thing. They want to be left alone so it's probably a good idea to just oblige."
If you do end up with a white hickory tussock moth caterpillar rash, it can be easily treated with conventional anti-rash medications. But if it persists, you should check with a medical professional.
The good news is we are on the back end of their caterpillar cycle. Pretty soon they'll all be tucked away in webs to "pupate" on their way to becoming White Hickory Tussock Moths next spring.
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